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A turning point for FBB

27 Feb

From the first day of our launch in 2010, Foundation Beyond Belief has had a passionately committed staff and the steadfast support of our members. We’ve used those human assets to raise more than three quarters of a million dollars for charities at work around the world and to develop a network of 23 humanist volunteer teams.

The one thing in short supply has been funding for our own operations. The generosity of our direct supporters has kept us going, but our ability to grow and to improve our programs has always been limited. Now one extraordinary donation of $240,000 has opened up tremendous possibilities for us.

Jeffrey StrangThis gift comes from Jeffrey Strang, a humanist in Oregon with a lifelong commitment to improving the lives of others.

His parents gave him his first name because it derives from the German Gottfried, “gift of God.” His grandfather Albert was from rural New Jersey and moved to the town of Vineland as a young adult around World War I, where he rose from teller at the local bank to president. It is from the estate of his grandparents that Jeff’s substantial gift to FBB comes.

Jeff was raised in an educated, churchgoing family in Vineland, but he says “the supernatural concepts never took hold, probably because of my interest in science and learning about the nature of reality.” When he was nearly 14, his family moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He attended Iowa State University, graduating in 1980 with bachelor’s degrees in math, animal ecology, and international studies.

Jeff then went to Ghana in the Peace Corps, where he taught math and science at a village high school and was a rural development worker, which gave him an interest in construction.

He moved to Portland in 1983 and started working at Rain Magazine, a proto-Green publication, as well as an associated project helping Vietnam War refugees resettle in the area through gardening and farming projects. He worked in publishing for a few years, was a volunteer coordinator for a local arts nonprofit, was a fishery biologist on Chinese and Polish fishing boats in the Bering Sea, and eventually studied construction and remodeling at Portland Community College. He was a remodeling contractor for 12 years, then became a home and housing inspector. Currently he works for Multnomah County in “healthy homes” programs.

Jeff was a loner agnostic/skeptic/atheist until September 11, 2001, when the huge theistic reaction to the events of that day drove him to seek company with fellow nonbelievers. He joined the Humanists of Greater Portland, was president in 2006–07, and he and his wife, Tamara Boyd, took in the daughter of a fellow member at age 10 because her single mother had a debilitating chronic health condition.

Jeff says he is splitting $270,000 between Foundation Beyond Belief and the American Humanist Association’s Humanist Charities program “because I strongly believe the secular humanist community should get credit for its contributions to humanity.” We’re also delighted to report that Jeff has signed on as a contributing member of the Foundation!

We are deeply grateful to Jeff, and hope that the transformation of our work that this gift makes possible will justify his confidence in giving it.

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